Taxi concerns persist amid record year for tourism

Deloitte fare review still in progress

Tourism businesses remain concerned about inconsistent pricing and lack of a reliable nighttime service from taxis.

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association is also asking government to “revisit” the policy of allowing drivers to charge an additional 20 percent per passenger when there are more than three people in the cab.

Concerns over pricing were raised in 2016, when several restaurant owners complained that customers were being charged wildly different fares for the same routes.

Theresa Broderick, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, said the organization was in ongoing discussions with government over a solution but remained concerned about fare transparency and service reliability.

Durk Banks, director of the Public Transport Unit, said it has not yet decided whether to introduce meters or a smartphone app to monitor fares.

The unit has published fare tables to and from some major destinations and set up a hotline for complaints in an effort to alleviate concerns from businesses.

Deloitte was commissioned early last year to review the pricing structure in the industry and that process is still ongoing, according to Mr. Banks. Restaurant owner Markus Mueri said he believed the level of taxi service and the quality of the fleet were among the best in the Caribbean. But he said a few rogue drivers gave the rest a bad name.

He is hopeful that new technology – potentially a smartphone app – will soon be introduced to help improve transparency and end disputes over pricing.

“The million-dollar question is how do we charge for a route? Yes, we are late to the game, but meters, they are the past; new technology with smartphones and apps is the future,” he said.

Ms. Broderick said the tourism association was pleased with the level of industry consultation during Deloitte’s taxi fare scheme review.

She also praised the Public Transport Unit for setting up a hotline to report issues and incidents and urged passengers to use it to give feedback on the industry.

But she said the Cayman Islands Tourism Association remained concerned that the surcharge for additional passengers – something that is believed to be unique to Cayman – is inequitable and “negatively perceived” by visitors.

The association has also raised concerns about a lack of taxi service during the evening hours and is asking for a published list of drivers licensed to operate during that time.

“We understand that drivers are licensed to provide service during particular time periods of the day and evening but many perhaps are not adhering to such a service-level agreement,” she added.

Ms. Broderick said the association was actively encouraging taxi associations and companies to join its organization and have a greater voice in the discussions.

She added, “The taxi service and our visitors’ interaction with our taxi drivers remain an important and valued aspect of the visitor experience and we simply have to get it right.”

Mr. Banks said the Deloitte review, once complete, would be presented to all stakeholders.

In the meantime, he said fare tables had been made available through the tourism association and would soon be published on the Department of Tourism website.

“The Public Transport Board is committed to transparency regarding taxi fares,” he added.

To report concerns or issues about taxis, call 946-1323 or email [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. I fully support taxi drivers as my husband used to be one. However, when I decided to do the responsible thing and share a taxi home with my friend (who lives 2 mins from me) which I paid $25 for and then would have expected her to pay MAYBE another $10, but no! She was charged $25+ dollars! No. I’m sorry. She was ripped off. She was nicer than me and paid but I never would have. Although I could have my car scratched or my tyres sliced… who’s to say. Regardless, it fuels the prejudice about taxi drivers which I typically argue although now, not so much… I’m sorry for all of the honest drivers there are out there. Now I know if this number and I will use it and spread it everywhere!

  2. Exactly how is the tourist jumping into a cab, rushing to get to his departing ship, to know about the PTU hotline, or any taxi passenger for that matter?. In the U.S. it is mandatory for a taxi driver to display his photo ID along with a number of the local regulator to whom complaints may be addressed. That simply does not happen here. Taxi drivers often rip off passengers for the simple reason that 95% of the time they get away with it.
    By no means all taxi drivers here are dishonest but a significant minority take advantage of their passengers, paricularly in the circumstances given above.

  3. I’d be very grateful for someone to explain the rationale behind the surcharge for additional passengers,

    Someone should also explain to the PTU that not everyone has a smartphone, and that many tourists don’t use theirs when they are visiting because of outrageous data roaming charges – so while meters may be ‘the past’ they are unquestionably the obvious solution

  4. @ Roger Davis

    Where I used to work in the Middle East a cab driver who failed to turn on his meter and tried to charge an excessive unmetered fare committed six separate offences. All an unhappy tourist needed to do was refuse to pay and call the cops, who then arrested the driver and impounded his cab. The authorities even made random checks with officers posing as customers to try and catch offenders. In many parts of the world it is simply illegal for cabs to carry passengers with the meter switched off. That’s the kind of things we need here.

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